Carla Tanguay, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapy & the Summer Slide
If you are like many parents, you are worried about summer learning loss, also known as the "Summer Slide." Most children experience some loss of academic skills as a result of summer vacation. Over the years, these losses can pile up and lead to your child being significantly behind. Research shows that children with special learning needs and those with less opportunities for enriching activities over the summer are impacted most.
There are many ways to help prevent summer learning loss and make summer a time for fun and enriching learning opportunities. Summer camps are a popular way to keep kids active and engaged during the summer. If your child is receiving special learning help, has an IEP, or receives therapy through the school system, his or her teachers and therapists may be able to provide resources and goals for you to work on together over the summer.
Summer is the perfect time to see if music therapy might be a good fit for your child. Music therapy combines the fun, active, and playful qualities of music with research-backed techniques that help with academic, motor, emotional, language, and social skills. Music therapists are specially trained to use music as a method to teach academic skills, and often work with children who have special learning, sensory, and developmental needs.
Music is a multi-sensory approach that engages the brain differently in order to reinforce math and literacy skills, build confidence, and regulate emotions. Remember how you learned the alphabet? You probably sang that familiar tune! Have you ever thought about how closely rhythm and math are related? Music teaches important skills in a way that kids and parents look forward to!
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens in a music therapy session?
Our music therapist will come to your house and meet with you and your child to determine what goals you'd like to address, what strengths your child has, and what challenges you are experiencing. I typically bring a variety of instruments, including a guitar, drums, percussion instruments, bells, and movement props. Your child is a part of the music making, and we will discover what types of music, which instruments and what techniques your child finds most enjoyable. We will then develop specific music-based activities in order to meet the goals that we have developed.
Do you need to be musical to benefit from music therapy?
No! In music therapy, the goal is not to create beautiful sounding music (although it happens sometimes!) We use music as a tool to work on goals that are not related to music, such as academic skills, motor skills, and emotional expression. Almost all people are born intrinsically drawn to music, and children in particular love using music to explore the world around them.
I haven't heard a lot about music therapy. Is it credible?
Music therapy is an established clinical profession with a long history and strong foundation in research. Over 7,000 music therapists are currently working across the country in schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, early intervention programs, and many other settings. We often partner with occupational, speech, and physical therapists and work as part of educational and healthcare teams. Music therapists gain national certification by completing a bachelor's or master's degree program, follow National Standards of Practice and adhere to a Code of Ethics.
My child has _________. Can you help with that?
Music therapy is for anyone with a learning, health, or wellness goal. It is particularly appropriate for children with learning difficulties, sensory processing challenges, and developmental disorders. If you have questions about a particular condition or challenge, contact us for a consultation.
Want to learn more about music therapy and academics? Check out these blogs and articles:
Music Strategies for the Academic Curriculum
Music Therapy and Math- a Video
A Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Music as Reinforcement for Education/Therapy Objectives
Music Therapy in Special Education